Living legend Barry ‘Crackling’ Pork and legendary larrikin Wayne ‘Spanks’ Spankle sit down at the bar to chew all the fat one week of sport can fit in.
SPANKS: What do you make of the situation down at Penrith, Crack?
CRACKLING: It makes me sad, Spanks. It makes me think of how different things were when I was at Penrith.
SPANKS: I didn’t know you played for the Panthers.
CRACKLING: No, I didn’t, I just visited Penrith Plaza to pick up some fresh bread rolls. And let me tell you, back then Gus Gould wasn’t telling me which rolls to buy. But these days…
SPANKS: These days no baked good is safe. Just ask Anthony Griffin.
CRACKLING: Griffin’s only got himself to blame. Nobody put a gun to his head and forced him to not father a brilliant halfback.
SPANKS: That’s true. The option was always open to him, but that’s Anthony for you: always trying to do things his way. Are we looking at a future where gifted kids are a prerequisite for an NRL coach?
CRACKLING: We might be, Spanks. And can that really be a bad thing?
SPANKS: I don’t know, Crackie. My dad used to coach my team, and it wasn’t all beer and marshmallows. Most of it was, of course, because every week the player of the match would get a prize of beer and marshmallows. But every now and then, Dad would name someone else player of the match, and that really pissed me off.
CRACKLING: It’s a terrible thing when a father won’t support his son.
SPANKS: So what happens when Ivan Cleary comes to the Panthers, and one day Nathan asks for the week off training so he can go water-skiing, and Ivan says no?
SPANKS: Exactly. Tension.
CRACKLING: Speaking of tension, there’s a fair bit of it down at the Demons this week.
SPANKS: A lot of people said that naming your club “the Demons” was a deliberate affront to God, and that the team would suffer His wrath in retribution for the insult. At the time I was unsure, but now there seems to be no doubt.
CRACKLING: It’s hard to believe that Melbourne might actually miss the finals, after seeing how exciting they can be.
SPANKS: No doubt they’re exciting. Nobody’s excited me more this year, including my wife.
CRACKLING: Classic Spanks!
SPANKS: But like my old mentor Lawrie Lawrence used to say, what good’s being exciting when you can’t hit the side of an elephant with a Gatling gun.
CRACKLING: He’s a different cat, is Lawrie.
SPANKS: He is. But he had a point. How are the Demons going to make finals if they can’t kick straight?
CRACKLING: It’s heartbreaking for Dees fans, assuming there are any.
SPANKS: On the other hand, the Swans are looking good again. Any team that can just barely defeat a completely incompetent side is a huge premiership threat.
CRACKLING: Heartbreaking for Alex Johnson, though. Six knee reconstructions. Can you imagine?
SPANKS: I can. I remember my sixth knee reconstruction. If I’d known I would go on to have five more, I might’ve thrown in the towel then and there. But Johnson has that great Bloods spirit, just like I did. And I didn’t even know what the Bloods spirit was, yet I managed to play an entire finals series in a wheelchair. So I think Johnson will be fine.
CRACKLING: Absolutely. A bit of the magic sponge and he’ll be good as new.
SPANKS: Speaking of good as new, congratulations to Cate Campbell. Five gold medals at the Pan Pacs and she blew away Simone Manuel.
CRACKLING: Your mate Lawrie would be proud of her.
SPANKS: He would. He always used to say, swimming is like eating breakfast: you can do it with eggs or you can do it with muesli, but in the end it’s always over by lunchtime.
CRACKLING: Different cat.
SPANKS: Very different cat.
CRACKLING: No doubt it’s a huge achievement, though. These might be the most memorable Pan Pacs I’ve ever seen, in that they are so far the only ones I can remember. In the end Australia finished second on the medal count, behind the USA. What does that tell you?
SPANKS: It tells me that I’ve been right all along: America is a better country than Australia.
CRACKLING: That sounds a bit unAustralian to me, mate.
SPANKS: Mate, you know I love Australia, but Pan Pacs medal counts don’t lie.
CRACKLING: Why do you think Cate Campbell, who was so successful at the Pan Pacs, couldn’t win gold in the 100m at the last Olympics?
SPANKS: I don’t know exactly, but I assume that in some way her opponents at the Olympics cheated.
CRACKLING: That’s often the way, isn’t it, when Australians lose?
SPANKS: Very often.
CRACKLING: Speaking of Australians losing, Adam Scott’s just gone down at the US PGA Championship, finishing third behind Brooks Koepka and Tiger Woods. Any thoughts?